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Debra Simmons

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Information about Debra Simmons

Profile image of Debra Simmons

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalist
Newspaper Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Macaroni And Cheese
Favorite Time of Year:
The Holidays
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.

Birthplace

Born:
11/4/1964
Birth Location:
Hartford, Connecticut

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalist
Newspaper Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Macaroni And Cheese
Favorite Time of Year:
The Holidays
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.

Birthplace

Born:
11/4/1964
Birth Location:
Hartford
See how Debra Simmons is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Journalist and newspaper executive Debra Adams Simmons was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Simmons attended Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications and the College of Arts and Sciences, from which she received her B.A. degree. She is also a graduate of the Northwestern University Media Management Center’s Advanced Executive Program in its Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Simmons had then planned to attend law school, but in 1986 was offered an internship at the local newspaper in Syracuse.

Simmons worked as a reporter and editor at the Hartford Courant, the Detroit Free Press, and the Virginian-Pilot. In 2003, she became managing editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, a Pulitzer prize-winning newspaper distributed throughout Northeast Ohio. Six months later she was appointed vice president of the newspaper. In 2007, Simmons was hired as managing editor of The Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper. Three years later, she was promoted to editor of The Plain Dealer, making her the only minority female running any of the nation’s top twenty-five newspapers.

In 2014, Simmons became president of the Associated Press Media Editors. She has also served as the board chairman of the Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop, vice chair of the board of directors for Business Volunteers Unlimited: Center for Non-Profit Excellence, member of the board of directors of the American Society of News Editors, member of the National Association of Minority Media Executives, and member of the National Association of Black Journalists

For her journalistic and community achievements, Simmons has been given the Robert McGruder Award for Diversity by Kent State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communications, named as one of Cleveland’s 40 Under 40 leading executives in Northeast Ohio by Crain’s, won the ATHENA award, and has been inducted into the Women of Color Hall of Fame.

Simmons lives in Copley, Ohio, with her husband, Jonathan. They have two sons; Jacob and Jonathan.

Simmons was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 11, 2014.

See how Debra Simmons is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Debra Simmons' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Debra Simmons lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Debra Simmons describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Debra Simmons describes her mother's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Debra Simmons talks about her mother's second marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Debra Simmons describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Debra Simmons describes her father's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Debra Simmons describes her father's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Debra Simmons describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Debra Simmons lists her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Debra Simmons describes her elementary school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Debra Simmons remembers the cultural institutions in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Debra Simmons describes the demographics of Hartford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Debra Simmons talks about her decision to become a broadcast journalist
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Debra Simmons describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Debra Simmons remembers becoming a double dutch champion
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Debra Simmons describes her decision to attend South Catholic High School in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Debra Simmons describes her experiences at South Catholic High School in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Debra Simmons recalls how she came to work at the Syracuse Herald-Journal
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Debra Simmons talks about the history of the Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Debra Simmons remembers her senior year at South Catholic High School in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Debra Simmons remembers her advisor at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Debra Simmons describes her experiences at Syracuse University, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Debra Simmons describes her experiences at Syracuse University, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Debra Simmons describes her position at the Syracuse Herald-Journal
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Debra Simmons remembers the Janet Cooke scandal
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Debra Simmons talks about her position at the Hartford Courant
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Debra Simmons describes her time as an education writer at the Detroit Free Press
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Debra Simmons remembers meeting her husband
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Debra Simmons recalls her transitions between The Virginian-Pilot and the Detroit Free Press
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Debra Simmons describes her position at The Virginian-Pilot
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Debra Simmons remembers turning down a position at The Washington Post
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Debra Simmons describes her role as deputy managing editor at The Virginian-Pilot
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Debra Simmons describes how she came to work at the Akron Beacon Journal
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Debra Simmons talks about her tenure at the Akron Beacon Journal
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Debra Simmons remembers the acquisition of Knight Ridder by The McClatchy Company, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Debra Simmons remembers the acquisition of Knight Ridder by The McClatchy Company, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Debra Simmons talks about the City of Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Debra Simmons talks about the digital distribution of The Plain Dealer
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Debra Simmons talks about the perception of Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Debra Simmons talks about the revitalization of Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Debra Simmons reflects upon her accomplishments at The Plain Dealer
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Debra Simmons talks about the recent crimes in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Debra Simmons talks about her relationships with community leaders in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Debra Simmons talks about the staff and content of The Plain Dealer
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Debra Simmons talks about her awards and honors
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Debra Simmons talks about the lack of diversity in the journalism industry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Debra Simmons reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Debra Simmons talks about her plans for the future
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Debra Simmons reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Debra Simmons talks about her children
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Debra Simmons shares her hopes and concerns for Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Debra Simmons describes how she would like to be remembered